No Time To Die: How that James Bond eulogy ties into the spys past

No Time To Die is one of the most emotional James Bond movies yet, fighting for the top spot with On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

One death, in particular, has been highly talked about online – and we’ve discussed the moment at length in our No Time To Die ending explained feature.

However, you may be wondering who originally wrote that eulogy? We have the answers below, but before we get anything here’s your…

Warning! The following contains major spoilers for No Time To Die. If you have not seen James Bond’s latest adventure in cinemas then click away now – preferably to this spoiler-free piece on the making of the movie, featuring interviews with Craig and the cast.

No Time To Die

(Image credit: Universal)

Still here? Then you know that our hero, James Bond, has gone to his grave. It was a shocking ending that has no doubt changed the trajectory of the franchise for good.

M (Ralph Fiennes) delivers a fitting eulogy for James Bond that goes: “The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.”

James Bond was certainly a man who lived rather than existed and the passage, written by American novelist Jack London, was first published by the San Francisco Bulletin in 1916. The passage later served as the introduction to a compilation of London’s short stories published posthumously in 1956.

Interestingly, the passage has previously been used to eulogize James Bond. In Ian Fleming’s novel You Only Live Twice, Bond’s obituary is published in a newspaper as the spy is believed to be dead. His love interest, Mary Goodnight, adds an addendum: the same Jack London passage read by M. Interestingly, in that same Bond book (very different from the movie of the same name), 007 strangles Blofeld to death.

As pointed out by Radio Times (opens in new tab), the passage is only part of the longer paragraph: “I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.”

For more on Bond, check out our feature on the potential future of the franchise in Bond 26. Or, if you’re looking for a bit of nostalgia, read our ranking of the best James Bond movies, ranked!

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